Trails

Boghaunter Trail

Open Season: Year round for hiking or snowshoeing
Trail Section and Length: Meadow Beauty Loop - 0.8 mile
Trail Section and Length: Boardwalk Loop - 1.75 miles
Trail Section and Length: Tamarack Loop - 3.6 miles
Location of trail: West of Rynearson Pool 2
Surface: Boardwalk, gravel, mowed grass
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult 
Information: Looking for an adventure? Boghaunter Trail System offers the longest trails on the refuge with a combined total of more than six miles of trails to explore. Trail loops wind through the different habitats of the refuge while showcasing the refuge’s amazing species diversity. The trail is named for the endangered ringed-boghaunter dragonfly occasionally found here. Hikers should expect to find something of interest on at least one of these trails! Combined, Meadow Beauty and Boardwalk Loop are more than two and a half miles long. The Tamarack Loop stretches more than three and a half miles and offers a slightly more challenging trail with some hills and forest in addition to wetland and prairie vistas. Watch for aerial wildlife such as dragonflies and damselflies or for larger mammals such as deer, bear, wolves and bobcat.
Birding Highlights: Sora, American bittern, whooping crane, king bird, Eastern bluebird and yellow-billed cuckoo

Harvey’s Pond Trail

Open Season: Year round for hiking or snowshoeing
Length: 0.7 mile
Location of trail: North of Hwy 21
Surface: Mowed grass
Difficulty: Moderate
Information: Harvey’s Pond Trail is less than a mile of mowed trail that winds between marshy lowlands and forested upland habitats. Whether it’s from the bank of the pond or the pier, fishing Harvey’s Pond is a great way to enjoy the refuge. Species you may encounter can include northern pike, largemouth bass, pumpkinseed, bluegill, yellow perch, crappie and brown bullhead. Although small in size, Harvey’s Pond is huge when it comes to its abundance of wildlife. Look for beavers, river otters and aquatic insects which may include both damselfly and dragonfly larvae. Harvey’s Pond offers a wonderful opportunity to discover the diversity that makes Necedah National Wildlife Refuge special during any time of the year.
Birding Highlights: Trumpeter swan, blue-wing teal, red-eyed vireo, ruby-crowned kinglet, pied-billed grebe, belted kingfisher and green heron.

Lupine Loop

Open Season: Year round for hiking or snowshoeing
Length: 0.8 mile
Location of trail: North of Goose and Sprague Pools
Surface: Gravel and mowed grass
Difficulty: Moderate
Information: Are you in search of the endangered Karner blue butterfly? Hike Lupine Loop in late May and late July to watch for this dimed-size beauty! The remainder of the year, this trail offers dynamic views of the backwater areas of Goose Pool. Be sure to check out the photo blind nestled along the shore line to look for both birds and other wildlife. Who knows what you will find!
Birding Highlights: Whooping crane, sandhill crane, trumpeter swan, ruddy duck, greater yellow legs, great blue heron, common loon, northern harrier, brown thrasher, American redstart and ovenbird.

Observation Tower Trail

Open Season: Year round for hiking or snowshoeing
Length: 1.0 mile
Location of trail: North of Grand Dike Road (20th Street)
Surface: Gravel, mowed grass
Difficulty: Moderate
Information: The Observation Tower Trail is a mile-long trail that winds through the refuge’s forested habitats adjacent to the shore of Rynearson Pool 1. This trail offers a two-story observation tower with a viewing scope north of the parking lot, as well as a small viewing blind at the far-east end. Sunrise at the tower offers amazing and unique sights and sounds. Spend some time here and watch as wading birds emerge from grasses and sedges. Ducks and other waterfowl love dabbling in the shallow waters of the pool and loafing on the white sandbars during the summer months. Along the trail be on the lookout for distinct black bear tracks, eye-catching scarlet tanagers and badger burrows! The viewing blind offers cover for viewing and photographing wildlife in the backwater areas of the pool.
Birding Highlights: Whooping crane, sandhill crane, trumpeter swan, tundra swans during migration, great egret during migration, northern shoveler, northern pintail, bald eagle, common yellowthroat, yellow warbler, blue-gray gnatcatcher, black and white warbler and scarlet tanager. 

Visitor Center Trail

Open Season: Year round for hiking or snowshoeing
Length: Muskrat Loop - 0.25 mile
Length: Karner Loop - 0.75 mile
Location of trail: Visitor Center
Surface: Asphalt, boardwalk, gravel (ADA)
Difficulty: Easy, multiple stops and benches
Information: Muskrat Loop takes 10 minutes to stroll around. Stop at the viewing scopes to scan the wetland for whooping cranes and trumpeter swans. Looking for more? Hike the Karner Loop which winds through forest and savanna and then step onto the boardwalk along with Rynearson Pool 2. The visitor center has outdoor bathrooms that are open from dawn to dusk on the west side of the building.
Birding Highlights: Whooping crane, sandhill crane, trumpeter swan, tundra swans during migration, great egret during migration, red-headed woodpecker, golden-winged warbler, ruby-throated hummingbird, cedar waxwing, sharp-shinned hawk and wood thrush.

White-Tail Loop

Open Season: Year round for hiking or cross-country skiing
Length: 1.7 miles
Location of trail: South of Grand Dike Road, park at the split rail fence
Surface: Mowed grass
Difficulty: Moderate
Information: If you are looking for a leisurely stroll through the woods, White-Tail Loop is definitely your style! Explore one of the refuge’s older forests and the wildlife that inhabits it. Watch for spring peepers at your feet and birds in the canopy, as you take in a quiet peek of the upland forested areas of the refuge. This dynamic trail offers opportunities for both serenity and exciting wildlife photography!
Birding Highlights: Barred owl, eastern wood-pewee, Baltimore oriole, indigo bunting, black-billed cuckoo, pileated woodpecker, brown creeper, and white-breasted nuthatches.

Boghaunter Meadow Beauty Trail

Trail Length (mi)
0.29
View Trail

Boghaunter Tamarack Trail

Trail Length (mi)
1.81
View Trail

Butterfly Trail

Trail Length (mi)
0.09
View Trail

Lupine Loop Trail

Trail Length (mi)
0.94
View Trail

Whitetail Loop

White-Tail LoopOpen Season: Year round for hiking or cross-country skiingLength: 1.7 milesLocation of trail: South of Grand Dike Road, park at the split rail fenceSurface: Mowed grassDifficulty: ModerateInformation: If you are looking for a leisurely stroll through the woods, White-Tail Loop is definitely your style! Explore one of the refuge’s older forests and the wildlife that inhabits it. Watch for spring peepers at your feet and birds in the canopy, as you take in a quiet peek of the upland forested areas of the refuge. This dynamic trail offers opportunities for both serenity and exciting wildlife photography!Birding Highlights: Barred owl, eastern wood-pewee, Baltimore oriole, indigo bunting, black-billed cuckoo, pileated woodpecker, brown creeper, and white-breasted nuthatches.
Trail Length (mi)
1.66
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / intermediate
Moderate
Estimated Time
60 Minutes
Route Type
Loop
Trail Activities
Birding
Cross-country skiing
Photography
Running
Wild edible foraging
Wildlife watching
Suitability
Dog friendly
Kid friendly
View Trail

Boghaunter Boardwalk Trail

 Open Season: Year round for hiking or snowshoeingTrail Section and Length: Meadow Beauty Loop - 0.8 mileTrail Section and Length: Boardwalk Loop - 1.75 milesTrail Section and Length: Tamarack Loop - 3.6 milesLocation of trail: West of Rynearson Pool 2Surface: Boardwalk, gravel, mowed grassDifficulty: Moderate to difficult Information: Looking for an adventure? Boghaunter Trail System offers the longest trails on the refuge with a combined total of more than six miles of trails to explore. Trail loops wind through the different habitats of the refuge while showcasing the refuge’s amazing species diversity. The trail is named for the endangered ringed-boghaunter dragonfly occasionally found here. Hikers should expect to find something of interest on at least one of these trails! Combined, Meadow Beauty and Boardwalk Loop are more than two and a half miles long. The Tamarack Loop stretches more than three and a half miles and offers a slightly more challenging trail with some hills and forest in addition to wetland and prairie vistas. Watch for aerial wildlife such as dragonflies and damselflies or for larger mammals such as deer, bear, wolves and bobcat.Birding Highlights: Sora, American bittern, whooping crane, king bird, Eastern bluebird and yellow-billed cuckoo
Trail Length (mi)
2.04
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / intermediate
Moderate
Estimated Time
3 Hours
Route Type
System
Trail Activities
Birding
Painting and drawing
Photography
Running
Snowshoeing
Wild edible foraging
Wildlife watching
Suitability
Dog friendly
Kid friendly
View Trail

Observation Tower Trail

Open Season: Year round for hiking or snowshoeingLength: 1.0 mileLocation of trail: North of Grand Dike Road (20th Street)Surface: Gravel, mowed grassDifficulty: ModerateInformation: The Observation Tower Trail is a mile-long trail that winds through the refuge’s forested habitats adjacent to the shore of Rynearson Pool 1. This trail offers a two-story observation tower with a viewing scope north of the parking lot, as well as a small viewing blind at the far-east end. Sunrise at the tower offers amazing and unique sights and sounds. Spend some time here and watch as wading birds emerge from grasses and sedges. Ducks and other waterfowl love dabbling in the shallow waters of the pool and loafing on the white sandbars during the summer months. Along the trail be on the lookout for distinct black bear tracks, eye-catching scarlet tanagers and badger burrows! The viewing blind offers cover for viewing and photographing wildlife in the backwater areas of the pool.Birding Highlights: Whooping crane, sandhill crane, trumpeter swan, tundra swans during migration, great egret during migration, northern shoveler, northern pintail, bald eagle, common yellowthroat, yellow warbler, blue-gray gnatcatcher, black and white warbler and scarlet tanager. 
Trail Length (mi)
0.72
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / intermediate
Moderate
Estimated Time
30 Minutes
Route Type
Loop
Trail Activities
Birding
Photography
Snowshoeing
Wildlife watching
Suitability
Dog friendly
Kid friendly
Wheelchair friendly
View Trail

Visitor Center Karner Loop Trail

Open Season: Year round for hiking or snowshoeingLength: Muskrat Loop - 0.25 mileLength: Karner Loop - 0.75 mileLocation of trail: Visitor CenterSurface: Asphalt, boardwalk, gravel (ADA)Difficulty: Easy, multiple stops and benchesInformation: Muskrat Loop takes 10 minutes to stroll around. Stop at the viewing scopes to scan the wetland for whooping cranes and trumpeter swans. Looking for more? Hike the Karner Loop which winds through forest and savanna and then step onto the boardwalk along with Rynearson Pool 2. The visitor center has outdoor bathrooms that are open from dawn to dusk on the west side of the building.Birding Highlights: Whooping crane, sandhill crane, trumpeter swan, tundra swans during migration, great egret during migration, red-headed woodpecker, golden-winged warbler, ruby-throated hummingbird, cedar waxwing, sharp-shinned hawk and wood thrush.
Trail Length (mi)
1.03
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / introductory
Easy
Estimated Time
40 Minutes
Route Type
System
Trail Activities
Birding
Painting and drawing
Photography
Snowshoeing
Wildlife watching
Suitability
Dog friendly
Kid friendly
Wheelchair friendly
View Trail

Visitor Center Muskrat Loop Trail

Open Season: Year round for hiking or snowshoeingLength: 0.8 mileLocation of trail: North of Goose and Sprague PoolsSurface: Gravel and mowed grassDifficulty: ModerateInformation: Are you in search of the endangered Karner blue butterfly? Hike Lupine Loop in late May and late July to watch for this dimed-size beauty! The remainder of the year, this trail offers dynamic views of the backwater areas of Goose Pool. Be sure to check out the photo blind nestled along the shore line to look for both birds and other wildlife. Who knows what you will find!Birding Highlights: Whooping crane, sandhill crane, trumpeter swan, ruddy duck, greater yellow legs, great blue heron, common loon, northern harrier, brown thrasher, American redstart and ovenbird.
Trail Length (mi)
0.34
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / intermediate
Moderate
Estimated Time
30 Minutes
Route Type
Lollipop
Trail Activities
Birding
Painting and drawing
Photography
Wildlife watching
Suitability
Kid friendly
View Trail

Harvey's Pond Trail

Open Season: Year round for hiking or snowshoeingLength: 0.7 mileLocation of trail: North of Hwy 21Surface: Mowed grassDifficulty: ModerateInformation: Harvey’s Pond Trail is less than a mile of mowed trail that winds between marshy lowlands and forested upland habitats. Whether it’s from the bank of the pond or the pier, fishing Harvey’s Pond is a great way to enjoy the refuge. Species you may encounter can include northern pike, largemouth bass, pumpkinseed, bluegill, yellow perch, crappie and brown bullhead. Although small in size, Harvey’s Pond is huge when it comes to its abundance of wildlife. Look for beavers, river otters and aquatic insects which may include both damselfly and dragonfly larvae. Harvey’s Pond offers a wonderful opportunity to discover the diversity that makes Necedah National Wildlife Refuge special during any time of the year.Birding Highlights: Trumpeter swan, blue-wing teal, red-eyed vireo, ruby-crowned kinglet, pied-billed grebe, belted kingfisher and green heron.
Trail Length (mi)
0.50
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / intermediate
Moderate
Estimated Time
20 Minutes
Route Type
Loop
Trail Activities
Birding
Fishing
Painting and drawing
Photography
Snowshoeing
Wildlife watching
Suitability
Dog friendly
Kid friendly
View Trail